Although I was delighted to hear the news that men in this country would finally have paid paternity leave I am aghast that it took this long. Even though men have been afforded two weeks paid which still pales in comparison to women who get 6 months and sometimes more. Men and women should be afforded equal leave. Very few men can afford to take off unpaid paternity leave. To me it makes perfect sense to have both partners off. It would undoubtedly contribute to the mother’s well being, physically and mentally. Babies are a lot of work and a lot of that care-taking is left to the women while she is on maternity leave. I’m not blaming the man for that – when he has to be up for work or come home from work exhausted and spend time with his child – it affects his relationship with his child and wife negatively causing a whole host of issues. Women often feel isolated and if they are without a safety net they can feel very alone and this naturally snowballs. A man feels detached and left out of his child’s life because the focus is very much centred on mother and baby bonding. Surely he feels just as out of his depth as she does but the problem is he never really gets a chance to properly adjust while the mother is thrown into the deep end.
A baby doesn’t stop being hard after two weeks, a baby has barely got started. 6 months is at least a reasonable time for new parents to get their footing and figure how to mind such a tiny human being. Their relationship is stronger if they have this experience together then if each party resents the other. It bothers me that businesses claim equal leave is bad for their companies. They would find a way around it if they had to. They had to do the same for women and it’s unlikely that it would be that damaging to them. Other European countries have significant paternity leave for fathers and they do not seem to be adversely affected. If anything a person would think an exhausted, stressed and unhappy worker would be less productive. Is business more important than the well-being of their staff and the future children of this country? Ireland seems to value money over its citizens. It’s incredible Ireland took this long to catch up, but not surprising. There is still more left to do.